The first Native American who met the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony walked into their encampment and greeted them in English. Which he had begun to learn from fishermen frequenting the waters of Maine. Supposedly, he greeted them then asked if they had beer.

Samoset

For the community in the United States, see Samoset, Florida.

“Interview of Samoset with the Pilgrims”, book engraving, 1853

Samoset (also Somerset, c. 1590–1653) was an Abenaki sagamore and the first American Indian to make contact with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. He startled the colonists on March 16, 1621 by walking into Plymouth Colony and greeting them in English, which he had begun to learn from fishermen frequenting the waters of Maine. Supposedly, he greeted them then asked if they had beer.

History

Samoset was a sagamore (subordinate chief) of an Eastern Abenaki tribe that resided in what now is Maine, and an English fishing camp had been established in the Gulf of Maine. Samoset learned some English from fishe… Continue Reading (5 minute read)

12 thoughts on “The first Native American who met the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony walked into their encampment and greeted them in English. Which he had begun to learn from fishermen frequenting the waters of Maine. Supposedly, he greeted them then asked if they had beer.”

  1. For those wondering how the hell this is possible, the English colony of Jamestown had already been established for 14 years.

  2. *Friday the 16th a fair warm day towards; this morning we determined to conclude of the military orders, which we had begun to consider of before but were interrupted by the savages, as we mentioned formerly; and whilst we were busied hereabout, we were interrupted again, for there presented himself a savage, which caused an alarm. He very boldly came all alone and along the houses straight to the rendezvous, where we intercepted him, not suffering him to go in, as undoubtedly he would, out of his boldness. He saluted us in English, and bade us welcome, for he had learned some broken English among the Englishmen that came to fish at Monchiggon, and knew by name the most of the captains, commanders, and masters that usually come. He was a man free in speech, so far as he could express his mind, and of a seemly carriage.*

    *We questioned him of many things; he was the first savage we could meet withal. He said he was not of these parts, but of Morattiggon, and one of the sagamores or lords thereof, and had been eight months in these parts, it lying hence a day’s sail with a great wind, and five days by land. He discoursed of the whole country, and of every province, and of their sagamores, and their number of men, and strength. The wind being to rise a little, we cast a horseman’s coat about him, for he was stark naked, only a leather about his waist, with a fringe about a span long, or little more; he had a bow and two arrows, the one headed, and the other unheaded. He was a tall straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, none on his face at all; he asked some beer, but we gave him strong water and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard, all which he liked well, and had been acquainted with such amongst the English. He told us the place where we now live is called Patuxet, and that about four years ago all the inhabitants died of an extraordinary plague, and there is neither man, woman, nor child remaining, as indeed we have found none, so as there is none to hinder our possession, or to lay claim unto it. All the afternoon we spent in communication with him; we would gladly have been rid of him at night, but he was not willing to go this night. Then we thought to carry him on shipboard, wherewith he was well content, and went into the shallop, but the wind was high and the water scant, that it could not return back. We lodged him that night at Stephen Hopkins’ house, and watched him.*

    *The next day he went away back to the Massasoits, from whence he said he came, who are our next bordering neighbors. They are sixty strong, as he saith. The Nausets are as near southeast of them, and are a hundred strong, and those were they of whom our people were encountered, as before related. They are much incensed and provoked against the English, and about eight months ago slew three Englishmen, and two more hardly escaped by flight to Monchiggon; they were Sir Ferdinando Gorges his men, as this savage told us, as he did likewise of the huggery, that is, fight, that our discoverers had with the Nausets, and of our tools that were taken out of the woods, which we willed him should be brought again, otherwise, we would right ourselves. These people are ill affected towards the English, by reason of one Hunt, a master of a ship, who deceived the people, and got them under color of trucking with them, twenty out of this very place where we inhabit, and seven men from Nauset, and carried them away, and sold them for slaves like a wretched man (for twenty pound a man) that cares not what mischief he doth for his profit.*

    *Saturday, in the morning we dismissed the savage, and gave him a knife, a bracelet, and a ring; he promised within a night or two to come again, and to bring with him some of the Massasoits, our neighbors, with such beavers’ skins as they had to truck with us.*

  3. Unfortunately for the pilgrims, even though what he was saying sounded kind of English it was mostly gobbledygook about “Ayuh, wicked good chowdah”

  4. The story gets better. Later on, they encountered another native by the name of Tisquantum (who basically shoved himself into the position of native ambassador to the Pilgrims, much to the ire of the actual appointed ambassador). He spoke even better English, *because he used to live in London*.

  5. As a Native American, this seems pretty legit.

    My grandfather loved beer

  6. Unfortunately, the only reason the pilgrams landed where they did, was because they were running out of beer.

    They were each only rationed a gallon per day, and they almost didn’t make it.

  7. He spent the night at Stephen Hopkins’s “house.” Stephen Hopkins was hired by the pilgrims to be their New World expert, since he had spent some years in Jamestown.

    His trip to Jamestown was so terrible that Shakespeare wrote a play based on the journey, The Tempest. Stephen Hopkins is believed to be the inspiration for the cowardly Stephano character.

  8. Even before the first real colonization efforts Europeans would show up pretty frequently to North America. That’s why all those stereotypes of them not recognizing ships are generally bull. Most had at least heard stories of giant boats and those that hadn’t seen or heard of european ships before still knew what a fucking boat was. It’s not like they were all in some desert, the East coast is full of rivers wetlands swamps and oh yeah the Great Lakes.

    Most natives would have seen the european boats and been like “Oh, a big boat. That’s kinda cool, but everybody grab your weapons just in case it’s that dumbass tribe that keeps stealing our shit” which is a pretty civilized response.

    Later on after Europeans began trading with the Natives it was more like “honey! Grab all the corn! We’re running low on gunpowder and we gotta trade for as much as we can while they’re here! Hurry! Maybe this time they’ll have that rifle I’ve been meaning to get a hold of!”

  9. His name was ~~Squanto~~ Samoset and he was there because his entire tribe was killed by disease. The Pilgrims found whole areas that had pottery and the like buried underground and assumed *The Big G Upstairs* had put everything there for them to survive.

    Edit: Samoset brought Squanto with him the next week.

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